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Past And Future Meet In O’Brien’s Address
Mayor Richard O’Brien mingled with guests after the State of the City address on Wednesday evening. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS
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Sheriff Jeff Dirkse and former council member Leanne Jones Cruz visited a bit at the State of the City event held at the Antigua Event Center. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS
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Riverbank Mayor Richard D. O’Brien addresses the crowd at the Antigua Event Center on Wednesday, March 13. He was presenting his seventh State of the City message, reviewing both city accomplishments and plans for the future. RIC MCGINNIS/THE NEWS

The 2019 State of the City Address presented by Riverbank Mayor Richard D. O’Brien was held at the Antigua Event Center on March 13. There were many guests in attendance including Senator Cathleen Galgiani, newly elected Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse, Hughson Mayor Jeramy Young, Oakdale Mayor JR McCarty, Riverbank Unified Superintendent Dr. Daryl Camp and city staff.

The evening began with a flag salute and pledge from Riverbank Boy Scout Troop 1100 and then a prayer.

City Manager Sean Scully introduced Mayor O’Brien and the ‘status report’ of Riverbank began.

“We say our good byes to Congressman Jeff Denham who has significantly assisted us in the partial transfer of the Ammunition Base,” stated O’Brien. “We welcome Congressman Josh Harder and look forward to finishing many projects while protecting our water rights. Adam Christianson is out hunting and fishing while Sheriff Jeff Dirkse is transforming his department. We say good bye to Councilmember Leanne Jones Cruz and extend a welcome to Councilmember Luis Uribe.”

He thanked several people for supporting the Riverbank community including Galgiani, Assemblymember Heath Flora, Supervisor Kristin Olsen, Authority Members, Commissioners, Directors, Advisory Committee, Representatives to the various groups and organizations that help develop policies and protect Riverbank’s interests.

“During the past 50 years the City of Riverbank expanded over six-and-a-half times,” O’Brien noted. “Many of the businesses have changed hands or dissolved. New businesses have arrived and many are thriving. Over the next 50 years new businesses will arrive and the challenges they face will be solved with our creative staff. Many of our religious groups and non-profits have met the needs for Riverbank while new groups are added to their ranks.”

The Riverbank Industrial Complex (RIC), O’Brien explained, will have a positive effect on Riverbank creating new businesses. Many of the buildings at the complex had roofing and siding removed and mitigated soil contaminated with PCBs with Capital Improvement funds that were set aside each year since 2010. The remaining parcel will be transferred to the city once remediation has been completed. The U.S. Army and Army Corps of Engineers have agreed to the terms for the Feasibility of Early Transfer (FOSET). The City will be partnering with Aemetis Inc. as the Master Developer that is an advanced renewable fuels and biochemical company focused on the production through innovative technologies that replace traditional petroleum-based products.

“With the commitment of funding, long term contracts and proposed economic growth, Aemetis is the right choice for Riverbank Master Developer,” added O’Brien. “The biofuels plant is not the only project. Aemetis is committed to building the infrastructure at the Industrial Complex for future manufacturers and commercial projects. This Industrial Complex will be a major regional employer in very short order. PMZ Commercial Developer Mr. Cary Pope will be managing the Industrial Complex not associated with the biofuels plant.”

O’Brien mentioned the community has received a Federal BUILD (Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development) Transportation Grant of $20M that is dedicated to the construction of a three-mile segment of the North County Corridor. The EIR should be completed and considered in January 2020. If approved the segment will start construction in 2022 to be completed by 2025. Future overpasses at Claribel and the BNSF rails will lessen the impacts with the tracks at Terminal Avenue. The total cost of this segment will be $61M with additional State SB1 funding, local Measure L funds and Public Facility Fees completing the funding source.

In the speech O’Brien added that Planning Manager Donna Kenney was working on the construction of over 300 homes on the east side of the city and will bring the annexation strategy forward. The Crossroads West specific plan has been completed and if approved by the City Council will be 380 acres of property south and west of existing city boundaries. The highlights he noted are as follows: ‘Expansion of our Sports Complex to a 22 acre Regional Sports Complex, 59 acres of Commercial with up to 550,000 square feet of retail space, Two schools, Fire station, 2400 homes of varying density, and Parks. Browman Development will build out Crossroads West as it has the current Crossroads Shopping Center which they will manage.’

The Mayor went on to discuss MS4 which eliminates pollutants from waterways by storm water runoff, strategic financial planning, Riverbank Police Services, homelessness, city building improvements, upgrades to the swimming pool facility, the scout hall, the cannabis moratorium, upcoming events and the future of Riverbank.

In 2018 O’Brien stated that Riverbank has had reduced crime numbers and RPS had over 14,600 cases with 545 custodial arrests made. He added that he was proud of the association with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department and all the work accomplished by RPS.

He also gave recognition to the late Scott McRitchie, whom he called one of Riverbank’s best friends, and supporters that contributed in many ways as he remembered some of the other members that the community has lost.

“To keep the City strong Riverbank City Council will continue to look to the future and evaluate what we must do today,” stated O’Brien in his closing remarks. “I look forward to the next two years that will set the stage for the next 50 years. God Bless Riverbank.”